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Common Questions About Divorce

Common Questions About Divorce In Orange County

  1. After the Dissolution of Marriage petition is filed, how long does it take for it to be granted?
  2. How long do I have to live in California before I can file for a divorce?
  3. How much Child Support am I entitled to?
  4. What is a “minor’s counsel?”
  5. Does California have a standard practice regarding the division of property?
  6. What is Mediation?
  7. Am I still liable for the debt that was incurred during my marriage?

1.  After the Dissolution of Marriage petition is filed, how long does it take for it to be granted?
Once the Summons and Petition has been served on the respondent, there is a six-month holding period before the Judge will sign the order granting the divorce.

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2.  How long do I have to live in California before I can file for a divorce?
In short, you must be a resident of California for at least six months prior to filing for a Dissolution of Marriage.  Furthermore, you must have resided at least three months in the county where the petition is to be filed.  If there are children involved, then the petition must be filed in the jurisdiction (county) where the children have resided for the prior three months.  Note, there are some exceptions and it is always wise to consult with an experienced Orange County Family Law attorney beforehand.

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3.  How much Child Support am I entitled to?
California utilizes specific guidelines in determining how much child support will need to be paid.  If the parents are unable to agree on a reasonable child support amount, then the court will follow these specific guidelines in establishing the amount.   The things that the courts take into consideration when determining child support include:

  • How much money each of the parents earns or can earn,
  • All income received by each party on a monthly basis,
  • How many children the two parties share,
  • How much time each parent will be spending with the children,
  • The actual tax filing status of each parent,
  • Support given to the recipient parent for children from other relationships,
  • Health insurance expenses,
  • Mandatory union dues and/or retirement contributions, and
  • Daycare costs.

In addition to the above, the court may also consider other costs that one parent may incur that benefit the child or children educationally or help meet certain special health needs.

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4.  What is a “minor’s counsel?”
A minor’s counsel is a court-appointed lawyer who represents the best interests of the child(ren).   Typically, he or she will make recommendations to the court regarding custody, visitation, health issues, and education.  He or she will try to express to the court both the needs and desires of the child(ren).    

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5.  Does California have a standard practice regarding the division of property?
In a Dissolution of Marriage proceeding, the courts will attempt to divide fairly all mutual marital property that both parties have an equitable interest in.   Marital property is defined as all property that either spouse acquired during the marriage, except such property that is acquired by gift or inheritance, property acquired in exchange for property that was owned prior to the marriage, and property excluded by valid agreement of the parties.  All property that is acquired by either party after the marriage, including pre-owned property that is transferred into some form of co-ownership after the marriage, is considered marital property.

In dividing marital property, the courts will attempt to distribute all marital property between the parties equitably.  This does not necessarily mean a 50-50 split in regards to a particular item, but rather, the court tries to insure that each party receive an equitable 50/50 share. For instance, one spouse may be awarded the marital home that is valued at $500,000, while the other will be awarded savings accounts, bonds, and other assets that are valued at $500,000.

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6.  What is Mediation?
Mediation is part of the legal process wherein both parties are aided by a neutral, third party whose job it is to help the two parties come to some sort of agreement regarding custody, support, visitation, and property distribution.  The mediator helps resolve various issues by:

  • helping to identify the needs of both parties and any children involved,
  • gathering information (including financial information) that is needed in order to make decisions regarding asset distribution and support issues, and
  • exploring various alternative solutions and making recommendations.

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